Kukla's Korner

The Real Reason For European Games

With word that the NHL and NHLPA are looking to extend their “Premiere” series to include more teams, people are going to start talking about an “inevitable” European expansion. I don’t think that’s the case at all. In fact, I think you have to realize that for all practical purposes, having European teams is impossible until either Star Trek-like transporters are invented or supersonic commercial flight becomes a reality. The wear on a player’s body, along with the travel time, just aren’t feasible. Ask any North American player that’s played in the Russian leagues and they’ll tell you that a cross-continent flight from one end of Russia to the other is way worse than a charter plane from New York to LA—and that doesn’t even cross an ocean.

However, no one’s gonna argue the popularity of hockey or the recognition factor of the NHL in Europe. Just like American-born soccer players recognize European leagues as the place where the best competition goes, there’s a reason why the best European players wind up competing for the Stanley Cup rather than the Swiss Elite championship.

So, you can’t expand over there but you’ve got an entire continent of untapped revenue. What’s the happy medium?

(Cue Ted Dibiase’s

I don’t think this means that we’ll have NHL: The Flamethrower on store shelves anytime soon but as long as the NHL and NHLPA see huge revenue potential in a market, they’ll attack it.

Side note: If you heard Brian Burke on NHL Home Ice earlier this week, he spoke positively about the experience and he faulted himself for pushing the NHL schedule maker to schedule the Ducks in an East Coast swing on their way back from Europe. If you look at the teams involved this year, they’ve got about a week off and they’re heading straight home for their openers. Evidently, Burke’s mistake is a lesson for the league.

Filed in: International Hockey, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: expansion, premier

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